Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sceptics and Ideologues


Scientific scepticism (or rational scepticism) is the practice of questioning or doubting the veracity of conclusions that lack empirical evidence or rely on non-reproducable experimentation. For example, the Berkely Earth Project set out to test climatologists research:
"Existing data used to show global warming have met with much criticism. The Berkeley Earth project attempts to resolve current criticism of the former temperature analyses by making available an open record to enable rapid response to further criticism and suggestions. Our results include our best estimate for the global temperature change and our estimates of the uncertainties in the record."
-From Berkeley Earth Project FAQ
The project took a sceptical approach to the earth temperature measurement to test some of the assertions made against climatologists. This independent analysis of both the data used by the IPCC and the arguments put by critics of climate change is an example of a sceptical, scientific method of analysis.

In contrast, an ideologue is a partisan advocate of a particular position or theory - for example [Emphasis mine]:
"Climate change sceptic Ian Plimer's book "How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters" arms children with 101 questions to challenge their teachers...
The 250-page book includes a list of questions intended to embarrass poorly prepared teachers."

Plimer and his denialist friends are very fond of using the title of "sceptic" because the term lends them some sort of scientific credibility. However, Plimer is not a sceptic, he is an ideologue and his book is pure ideology.

It is little surprise that he got one of Australia's most ideologically-driven leaders to launch it.